Managing unauthorised camping by Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland: guidance for local authorities

Practical advice for local authorities on how to manage unauthorised camp sites.

Annex D: Examples of Good Practice

During the development of this guidance we found several examples of good practice in managing unauthorised sites. To assist local authorities in learning from one another we have gathered some useful resources together in this annex, which local authorities may wish to review and adapt for use in their own area. For any queries relating to this material please contact the local authority concerned.

  • Flow Chart for Managing Unauthorised Sites (from the City of Edinburgh Council)
  • Action sheet for completion at an Unauthorised Site (from the City of Edinburgh Council)
  • Code of Conduct for Unauthorised Gypsy/Traveller Sites (from East Ayrshire Council)
  • Gypsy Traveller Co-operation Policy (from Fife Council)
  • Unauthorised Sites operating Guidance (from Fife Council)
  • Good neighbourhood Code (from Scottish Borders Council)
  • St Boswell's Fair - a large gathering (from Scottish Borders Council)

Material available online:

Angus Council

Managing Unauthorised Encampments of Gypsies/Travellers

Policy and Procedure

Stirling Council

Gypsy/Travellers: Guidelines for Unauthorised Encampments

City of Edinburgh Council - Flow Chart for Management of Unauthorised Sites

Flow Chart for Management of Unauthorised Sites

City of Edinburgh Council - Action Sheet for Unauthorised Sites

Location (including Risk Assessment of suitability of use)

Local Authority or Private Land

Date of Arrival

Vehicles (including details of increase/decrease in size of site)

Occupant Details

Support Needs Identified (Health, Child Welfare, Vulnerable Adults) Where these met and by who?

Details of services provided by NHO (waste collections/water etc.)

Nature of Complaints received

Legal Action Date of Commencement

How far the action went from serving notice to quit to eviction

Date Site Vacated

Summary of Lessons Learnt

Code of Conduct - East Ayrshire Council

Code of Conduct - East Ayrshire Council

Code of Conduct - East Ayrshire Council

Fife Council - Gypsy/Travellers Co-Operation Policy

Fife Gypsy Travellers Co-operation Policy (revised March 2015)

1.0 Aim

The aim of the Policy is to provide a framework of co-operation with Gypsy Travellers in Fife, clearly identifying their rights and responsibilities, and that of the Business & Settled Communities.

2.0 Objectives

The main objectives of the Policy are:-

  • To agree the respective rights and responsibilities of the Council and Gypsy Travellers.
  • To agree proper consultation mechanisms based on the full participation between Council Services, Fife Constabulary, other Partners in the Public and Voluntary Sectors and Gypsy Travellers.
  • To manage unauthorised encampments in the context of the provision of permanent and Seasonal Sites provision for Gypsy Travellers.
  • In light of the most recent experience with larger groups of Gypsy Travellers in Fife, to ensure that the Council manages unauthorised encampments fairly and robustly in accordance with the agreed guidance
  • To ensure that the interaction between the settled and business communities and the Gypsy Traveller Community is managed proactively through effective partnership working involving all of the agencies and services involved

3.1 Principles

This Policy recognises:

3.2 Gypsy Travellers Rights

  • The right to roam as central to the Gypsy Traveller culture
  • The right of Gypsy Travellers to live a life free from prejudice and discrimination
  • The right for Gypsy Travellers to be fully involved/consulted in the development of services provided for them
  • Protect the rights of children to obtain settled & temporary accommodation, education and health

3.3 Gypsy Travellers Responsibilities

  • To respect the provisions of the law in Scotland, particularly in relation to access to land, respect the integrity of security gates, fences etc, to prevent unauthorised access to publicly or privately owned land in Fife
  • The responsibilities of Gypsy Travellers to respect the interests of the Settled and Business communities
  • The responsibility to work co-operatively with the Council and other public and voluntary organisations, and to move to alternatives to an unauthorised encampment when requested to do so by the Travelling Persons Site Manager. Alternative suitable provision will include vacant permanent pitches, and seasonal site pitches.
  • The responsibility to respect the Council's overarching responsibility to consider the interests of all communities in Fife.

4.1 Background to Policy Requirement and Development

4.2 The requirement to produce a Co-operation Policy arises from the advice from the Scottish Government to all Local Authorities in Scotland that they agree procedures with Police Scotland to deal with unauthorised encampments of Gypsy Travellers. The scope of the Fife Policy Statement also encapsulates Gypsy Traveller services provision and development.

4.3 The development of the Policy is the responsibility of the Council working in partnership with other key partners including Police Scotland, Education & Children Services, and NHS Fife.

5.1 Unauthorised Encampments

5.2 The Council and Gypsy Travellers recognise that the existence of unauthorised encampments has the potential to give rise to significant complaints, not just from the general public but also from the business community.

5.3 Fife Council will initiate proceedings for eviction of unauthorised encampments where an encampment:-

5.3.1 Creates a hazard to road safety, contrary to Fife Council's Transportation Development Guidelines; to the ability of the Fife Fire and Rescue Service to discharge its responsibilities or otherwise creates a health or safety hazard; or

5.3.2 Creates an intolerable nuisance by reason of its size, location, nature or duration; or

5.3.3 Creates an intolerable impact on employment land, use of habitation on adjoining or nearby property; or interferes with the effective operation or management of that property; or

5.3.4 Causes or is likely to cause damage to the Council's land or property or prejudice to its employees; or prejudices or is likely to prejudice the use of land for its intended purpose(s) or by legitimate tenants or occupants; or

5.3.5 is too large for its location or is causing unacceptable impact on its environment; or

5.3.6 Would, for some other reason, be detrimental to the interests of the public if allowed to remain for an extended period."

5.4 The decision whether to allow an unauthorised site to remain will be a balance between the needs, rights and wishes of the Travellers and those of the settled community; and whether there is any impact on the environment. Corroborative evidence on the level of nuisance and/or impact(s) which are occurring and which cannot be effectively controlled will be required before action is taken. Each case will be assessed on its own merits based on site location and local circumstances. The health, social, education and housing needs of Gypsy Travellers will be taken into consideration when a decision is reached. Information gathered will determine the appropriate action to be taken and the duration of stay (if applicable).

6.1 Seasonal Sites

6.2 The Council intends to supplement the static provision in Fife, both public and private, with a number of seasonal sites. The Council intends to establish these sites for the Travelling Season in 2015 (March - October), in full consultation with Local Members and Community interests. Unauthorised encampments outwith permanent sites pending the completion of the seasonal sites will not be permitted if the strict terms of the criteria set out in paragraph 5.2 of the Council's policy are breached.

6.3 The Council will operate the seasonal sites on a pilot basis for one season with an evaluation report back to the Council's Executive Committee in December 2015.

6.4 The seasonal sites will have the following amenities:

  • Hard standing area to agreed area extent to accommodate up to 30 caravans and associated vehicles
  • Water supply either via a standpipe supply or by water bowser provision
  • The removal of trade waste at an agreed charge (Duty of Care Regulations)
  • Provision of portaloos
  • Provision of black bags for domestic waste or 240 litre wheeled containers, one for each designated seasonal pitch

Location of Seasonal Sites

6.5 Seasonal sites may be located on nominated areas at the periphery of business parks where Gypsy Travellers have tended to set up unauthorised encampments.

Definition of a Seasonal Site

6.6 A seasonal site will be a piece of land in the Council ownership or private ownership to be expressly used as a short-term usage (up to 4-6 weeks) by Gypsy Travellers. The site rules and occupancy conditions will be managed in co-operation with Gypsy Travellers by the Council's Travelling Persons Site Managers.

Management of Seasonal Sites

6.7 The management of seasonal sites will be the responsibility of the Housing Service's Travelling Persons Managers in liaison with key Council Services, Police Scotland, Health agencies, voluntary agencies, and in consultation with Gypsy Travellers.

6.8 It is the responsibility of Gypsy Travellers to use the designated sites and to use them in a responsible manner, particularly in maintaining the cleanliness of the sites, and to respond appropriately to the waste disposal agreement on each site. Gypsy Travellers who do not respect the site or other residents on the site ( e.g. cause anti-social behaviour, dumping of waste/rubbish), will be required to leave the site.

6.9 Gypsy Travellers seeking to set-up alternative unauthorised encampments will be advised to move to the designated sites. The Council will seek to move Gypsy Travellers on if the voluntary arrangement is not met.


6.10 The Council will charge all reasonable costs for the provision of services to the seasonal sites in the form of a Service Charge levied on site users. Gypsy Travellers using seasonal sites will be required to pay the appropriate charge. Failure of Gypsy Travellers to do so will result in their requirement to move from the site.

7.1 Service Provision to Gypsy Travellers

7.2 The Council confirms that best practice in the provision of Gypsy Travellers services is based on the direct participation of Gypsy Travellers. The Co- operation Policy will lead to a review of all services currently provided by Public and Voluntary Agencies in Fife to ensure that they meet current and anticipated needs, and that Gypsy Travellers are involved in their review. Fife Council Executive Committee will play a key role in the review and recommending changes to services to meet the needs and gaps that are identified.

7.3 This Policy recognises that the needs and aspirations of a nomadic group, and hence the services that are required, may differ from those of the settled community.

7.4 The external Regulation of Service provision to Gypsy Travellers in Fife will be the responsibility of the Scottish Housing Regulator.

7.5 The basis for all services to Gypsy Travellers is that they are provided equally and fairly for all citizens in Fife.

8.0 Policy Monitoring and Review

The Co-operation Policy will regularly be monitored and reviewed by the Fife Council Executive Committee with the direct participation of Gypsy Travellers. The Housing & Communities will receive an annual statement in March for scrutiny purposes.

Updated March 2015

Fife Council - Unauthorised Sites Operating Guidance

Gypsy Travellers and Unauthorised Encampments


1. Public concerns or complaints about unauthorised encampments should be raised through the Contact Centre.

2. Contact centre will notify the designated Gypsy Traveller Site Manager and the Site Manager in the area.

3. The Site Managers are responsible for managing unauthorised encampments and notifying Elected Members, Police Scotland, and local Community Councils about the situation.

4. Gypsy Traveller Site Manager will alert other Fife Council Services as required, services are aware of their responsibilities within the context of a multi-service response.

5. The Gypsy Travellers will be approached within 48 hours of notification of the encampment. The designated site manager will establish:-

  • The safety of the position of the encampment
  • The number of families on the site including the number of vehicles and caravans
  • Health, education, housing, and welfare needs of the families
  • The intended length of stay of the Gypsy Travellers
  • The reason for being in Fife
  • The travelling pattern of the individuals/group
  • Where they intend to go
  • The ownership of the site

6. The Officer(s) will:-

Provide information to the Gypsy Travellers on:-

(a) The Council's Co-operation Policy

(b) Details of alternative sites (permanent and seasonal if available)

Provide an Application for Housing or Travelling Pitch if requested

Make a referral for any assistance required from health, education or any welfare needs

7. The Officer(s) will evaluate the individual circumstances and take action to:-

(a) Recommend removal of the Gypsy Traveller(s). This should be done within a 1-5 day period based on the assessment of the site.

(b) Short stay. This would be for a 5-15 day period, again depending upon the circumstances of the individual travelling group.

(c) A temporary stay for a period of 5-28 days.

8. In cases where removal is required, the Designated Officer will notify relevant services and negotiate removal with approved solicitors.

In all circumstances, consideration needs to be given to the provision of education, health, environmental protection and waste collection.

The approach reflects the need to determine the circumstances in which an encampment might be allowed for a period; establish the level of nuisance and whether it can be effectively controlled; and establish service support where necessary.

9. An essential part of the guidance is monitoring every situation which arises to ensure the effectiveness of the policy. The designated Officer should make regular visits to the unauthorised encampment to ensure there is no breach of the Co-operation Policy; and that the service support offered is sufficient to meet the Gypsy Travellers' needs. Contact should also be made with the complainant to advise them of the steps taken by the Council and monitor their concerns.

10.Statistical information should be collated. This would allow the level and type of complaints to be monitored; the travel patterns of Gypsy Travellers; the effectiveness of the policy in discouraging the use of unauthorised sites; and the success in encouraging use of the Council's permanent, seasonal and traditional sites.

Monitoring and gathering of statistical information will be recorded and reported to the Housing Team Manager. This will provide a basis for future reviews of the policy to ensure its continued effectiveness in consultation with all relevant parties.

23 rd March 2015

Scottish Borders Council - Large Gathering Event Leaflet

(Please note that St Boswells Fair is a large gathering that is an authorised site for a temporary period of time).

Scottish Borders Council - Large Gathering Event Leaflet

Scottish Borders Council - Large Gathering Event Leaflet

Scottish Borders Council - Unauthorised Site Guide

Scottish Borders Council - Unauthorised Site Guide

Scottish Borders Council - Unauthorised Site Guide


Email: Ged Millar

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